So what can over 100 syllabi tell you about a course?? That’s what we’re trying to find out. More specifically, we’re looking at a wide sample (in number and type of institution) to get a better understanding of what is going on in the service course across the nation. The “service course” is typically a course that is designed for majors in other departments with either a technical/scientific focus (usually for engineers), a business writing focus, or a professional writing focus (the latter two show little to no differences are geared toward all non technical or scientific majors on campus). These courses are usually managed and staffed by the technical and professional writing program (no matter whether that program is housed in a department or if it is its own department).
There are also a large number of these sorts of courses at institutions where no technical adn professional writing program exists, which means there could be issues of quality and content if the person in charge of staffing and training those instructors does not have a background in technical and professional communication.
The syllabi that we have are from a range of courses that include those at institutions with TPC programs and those without TPC programs. As Michael Knievel (from his CPTSC conference presentation, email me for the cite 🙂 has said, the service course is a bellwether of the field, and having this sort of rich data for the first time will help orient the field on where it needs to go with this course and what sorts of training and development programs may need to be delivered.
This project will also give us insights into what a variety of instructors feel the outcomes are for this course so we can potentially move toward an organizationally sanctioned outcomes document specific to the TPC service course.